Vitreous humor is the fluid that fills the back section of your eye. This thick, gel-like substance helps your eye maintain shape and also helps protect the structures within the eye. As you age, the vitreous may break down and clump together. This process can result in floaters, black spots that pass through your vision. Treatment cannot restore this fluid, but certain nutrients may help prevent the breakdown of the components in the vitreous.
Break down of the vitreous may result from oxidation. This is a natural process that occurs within your body, resulting when unstable molecules, often called free radicals, damage cells, including the cells that make up the vitreous. Free radicals form from exposure to radiation, cigarette smoke or chemicals, as well as from the natural process of food digestion and storage, explains the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. You can limit your exposure to environmental factors to reduce your risk of oxidative stress. To help prevent free radicals formed from body processes, you can consume healthful foods that contain antioxidants, nutrients that may help prevent oxidation.
Many nutrients have antioxidant qualities, and these nutrients could help reduce your risk of floaters and other damage to the vitreous fluid. Some of these beneficial nutrients include vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. You should not increase your intake without first consulting your doctor. She can evaluate your diet and help you create a food plan that meets all of your nutritional needs.
Your doctor may recommend that you take a vitamin supplement that contains one or more antioxidant nutrients. However, she may tell you, instead, to choose healthful foods that will provide you with the nutrients you need to keep your vitreous and other parts of your eyes healthy. For example, dark green, leafy vegetables contain lutein and zeaxanthin, or you may select strawberries, oranges and spinach for vitamin C. As well, many nuts and seeds, such as almonds and sunflower seeds, provide vitamin E. If your doctor recommends that you increase your antioxidant intake through diet, she will help you create a nutrition plan that will provide you with nutrient sources that suit your health needs.
Many people experience a few floaters in their vision, but if you have new floaters you should contact your doctor. A sudden onset of many new floaters could indicate a retinal detachment, and this requires immediate attention to prevent permanent changes in your vision. If you want to increase your antioxidant intake, consult your doctor first. Some foods and nutrients may interfere with certain medications, such as blood thinners. Your doctor can help you determine if you have any risks for these interactions.
- University of Illinois at Chicago: Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences: Floaters
- MayoClinic.com: Eye Floaters
- American Optometric Association: Diet & Nutrition
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Antioxidant Supplements for Health: An Introduction
- Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics: Age-Related Antioxidant Capacity and the Vitreous and Its Possible Relationship with Simultaneous Changes in Photoreceptors, Retinal Pigment Epithelium and Bruchs’ Membrane in Human Donors’ Eyes